How Long Can a Felony Charge be Pending in Florida?

How Long Can a Felony Charge be Pending in Florida?

Anyone suspected of or charged with a crime in Florida has the right to a fair and speedy trial, just like in the rest of the United States. Whether the charge is a misdemeanor or any degree of felony, it is a violation of due process to leave someone in any form of legal jeopardy, including imprisonment, for an unreasonable amount of time.

The idea is that the state needs to do things like make an arrest, file charges, and rule on a conviction within enough time so that anyone involved or suspected of a crime can either serve their sentence if guilty or move on with their life if not. This is why if there is a felony investigation, or a pending felony charge, the state has time limits on how long it can take to move forward.

If you are facing any type of legal jeopardy over a potential or pending felony charge in Florida, it is common to wonder how long the state has to process this. The following guide can give you a better understanding of how long a felony can be pending before trial, and how the statute of limitations affects the amount of time the state has to conduct an investigation and make an arrest.

How Is a Felony Defined in Florida?

The definition of a felony is basically a crime that is more serious than a misdemeanor. Felonies are often crimes that involve violence as well as crimes that involve willful and knowing fraud or theft. Under Florida law, crimes are considered felonies when they can result in more than a year of imprisonment.

Felonies are divided into different degrees, including capital felonies which can result in the death penalty, and life felonies, which can result in life imprisonment. These are reserved for the most serious crimes such as first degree murder and sexual assault on a minor.

First, second, and third degree felonies come with hefty fines and prison sentences ranging from five to thirty years. These felony degrees are typically reserved for crimes such as carjacking, vehicular homicide, or theft of a vehicle.

Enhanced felony sentences can also be given to repeat felony offenders, with mandatory minimums existing for offenders convicted of three felonies.

Timeline for Pending Felony Charges After an Arrest

One of the most important factors for determining how long a felony charge can be pending in Florida is whether or not an arrest has been made. Under Florida law, anyone arrested for and charged with a felony must be given a speedy trial.

Specifically this means that the prosecution has 175 days to bring a pending felony charge to trial in Florida. This time limit applies to any degree of felony, from capital felony to third degree felony. After this time period, the prosecution must either bring the case to trial or drop the charges.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

For felonies where there is an investigation but not an arrest, the statute of limitations comes into play. The statute of limitations in Florida and other states determines how much time the state has to conduct an investigation, make an arrest, and charge a person for a crime. After this time, a person cannot be held in legal jeopardy as a suspect for that crime.

If a person is arrested within that time, the above timeframe to bring a pending felony to trial in Florida would apply.

Statute of Limitations Times for Common Felonies in Florida

In Florida, the length of the statute of limitations depends on the degree of felony the crime falls under. Generally statute of limitations times align with the following timeframes and circumstances:

  • There is no statute of limitations for the most serious capital felonies
  • For first degree felonies the statute of limitations is four years
  • For less serious felonies, the statute of limitations is three years

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations. For certain crimes, such as theft crimes, the statute of limitations can be four to six years.

How a Lawyer Can Help Your Criminal Defense Case

Being charged with a crime is a serious situation, particularly if it is a pending felony in Florida. The emotional stress of being accused of a crime is taxing on you, your family, and everyone involved, so finding a criminal defense attorney that you can trust is key to the start of a successful case.

The experienced team at Clark Hartpence Law handles a wide array of criminal cases, including felonies. Criminal felony cases include manslaughter, murder, drug crimes, weapon offenses, gun crimes, sex crimes, assault and battery, and domestic violence.

If you or a loved one is facing any of these charges, contact us immediately. We are passionate about fighting for you and building the best case possible with the speed and attention you deserve. Call the experts at Clark Hartpence Law at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation today.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.